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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Burma Cracks Down on Buddhist-led Protests

HISTORY IN THE NEWS:



History never dies. It is reborn every minute of every day.

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DEDICATED TO THE ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY EVENTS AROUND THE WORLD.


"Can't you 'ear the paddles chunking/from Rangoon to Mandalay?/Where the flyin fishes play/An' the dawn comes up like thunder/outer China 'crost the Bay."
Rudyard Kipling,
'Mandalay'.


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Buddhism has been a political force in Burma at least since 1906- when Burmese Buddhist monks confronted British colonial opposition to the prominence of the monks in Burmese society.

TAG: A nation whose leadership has known little historical greatness since the 18th century, and has lived mostly in the afterglow of the British Empire, struggles once and for all for popular government.

IN THE NEWS: AT LEAST FIVE PEOPLE, MOST OF THEM BUDDHIST MONKS, ARE KILLED AS BURMESE SECURITY FORCES TURN ON MASS PROTESTS. THE MONKS HAVE BEEN LEADING DEMONSTRATIONS AROUND THE HOLY SITE OF THE SHWEDAGON PADODA IN RANGOON, THE BURMESE CAPITAL, SINCE MID-SEPTEMBER. THAT WAS WHEN THE RULING JUNTA RAISED FUEL PRICES, BRINGING THOUSANDS INTO THE STREETS OF THE IMPOVERISHED COUNTRY. THE ORDERLY DEMONSTRATIONS ARE BEING CARRIED OUT IN DEFIANCE OF A BAN ON PUBLIC GATHERINGS. THE MONKS, MEANWHILE, HAVE GREAT MORAL AUTHORITY, MAKING THE MILITARY RELUCTANT TO USE FORCE. TO ADD TO THE JUNTA'S WOES, MANY DEMONSTRATORS ARE FLYING THE PEACOCK BANNER OF DEMOCRACY ACTIVIST AUNG SAN SUU KYI WHO HAS BEEN MOVED IN AND OUT OF HOUSE ARREST OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS. MOREOVER, MANY IN THE ARMY, WHICH HAS BEEN HELD IN RESERVE, COME FROM POOR FAMILIES AND THE JUNTA IS RELUCTANT TO COMMIT THEM FOR FEAR THEY MIGHT BE SYMPATHETIC. MEANWHILE, THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HAS CALLED ON THE MILITARY RULERS TO USE RESTRAINT, THE UNITED STATES HAS IMPOSED SANCTIONS AND THE UN HAS SLATED A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL. CHINA, BURMA'S NEIGHBOUR AND ONLY ALLY HAS INVESTED HEAVILY IN THE COUNTRY'S IMMENSE RESERVES OF NATURAL GAS. BEIJING CLAIMS IT DOES NOT INTERVENE IN THE AFFAIRS OF FRIENDLY NATIONS.

IN A NUTSHELL: A historical force in Burma since the 11th century, Buddhism remains a key force behind mass protests driven by poverty and economic mismanagement.

THEN AND NOW: In the 1950s Prime Minister U Nu founded a neutral Burma, making Buddhism the state religion in an attempt to integrate an ethnically diverse country. The moderate, peaceful prosperous Burma he hoped to create is perhaps reflected in his later support of Aung San Suu Kyi. A half century later, his successors have taken what he started and made it into a destitute, paranoid, police state.

CONTENTS: SCROLL DOWN FOR:
DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
RELEVANT DATES
RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS
REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS

LOCATION OF NOTE:

PROFILE:
CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY
EYEWTNESS
PRESENT SITUATION
PLUS CA CHANGE
CURIOSITY
TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF LEBANON


DISTANT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. Between 1824 and 1885 the British subdued Burma in three successive wars before annexing it to British India in 1886. From the turn of the century until World War Two, a powerful anti-colonial, student nationalist movement, often inspired or backed by Buddhists, got under way. Prominent were future nationalist leaders U Nu and Aung San. The British imprisoned U Nu and sent Aung San into exile. During World War II, U Nu was freed during Japan's invasion of Burma. Both Aung San and U Nu collaborated with the Japanese against the British using Aung San's Burma Independence Army, led by his military chief, U Ne Win. As the Japanese began to lose the war, both Aung San and U Nu went over to the allies. With the allies victorious, Aung San headed a provisional government and in 1947 he negotiated Burma's independence from Britain. But in July of the same year he and five members of his government were assassinated by U Saw, a political rival. So died Burma's only unifying political figure. Throughout the 1950s, U Nu led the country with U Ne Win as his military chief, only to have U Ne Win take power in a coup in 1962.

Burma's present probems began when U Ne Win proceeded to make himself chairman of a Revolutionary Council and banned parliament. The radical isolation of the Burmese nation that continues today got under way when Ne Win promulgated an ultra-natioanlist ideology- “the Burmese Way to Socialism", a combination of Buddhism, Marxism, nationalism and isolationism. The only country with which Burma maintained relations was China. Following his xenophobic ideas, U Ne Win expelled the Chinese and Indian traders who comprised Burma's middle class, thus breaking the back of the economy. Though he left office in 1971, U Ne Win managed to keep a stranglehold on all power and decision-making through his Burmese Socialist Program Party.

So broken was the economy that riots exploded in 1988, the same year that Aung San Suu Kyi the daughter of the revered founding father, Aung San, returned to Burma. The army dealt with the protests by killing three thousand. Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi founded the opposition movement, the National League for Democracy. Saw Maung, one of the triumverate of Generals who presently rules Burma, used the occasion to overthrow U Ne Win, set up a new dictatorship and rename the country Myanmar.

RELEVANT DATES
: 1824-1826- First Anglo-Burmese War brings the Burmese regions of Arakan and Tehnasserim under control of the British.
1886- Britain annexes Province of Burma to British India.
1906- the Young Men’s Buddhist Association is formed in reaction to British opposition to the prominence of Buddhism on Burmese society.
1937- Burma separates from the British Empire.

1938-40- Aung San becomes secretary of the nationalist Dobama Asiayone movement.
1940- Aung San is sent into exile. He undergoes military training with the Japanese.
1942-45- World War Two- Burma is occupied by the Japanese. The British fight the Burma Campaign against the Japanese and their Burma Army allies.
1944- Aung San of the Burma Army contacts Viscount Mountbatten. In March- Aung San, the Burmese Republican Parry and the Communists turn against the Japanese as the anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL). Aung San becomes president.
May 17- Burma recaptured by the allies.
1946- Un Nu becomes president of the Burmese Constituent Assembly

The Allied Victory: Aung San heads a Liberated Burma. Aung San become Prime Minister in the Governor’s Executive Council.
1947- in London, Aung San negotiates Burma’s independence and conceives the new Burmese Constitution.
1947- Aung San Assassinated
1948- Jan 4- Burma formally attains independence.
1948-56- U (Thakin) Nu of AFPFL is Prime Minister- (1907-1995) U Ne Win holds senior military and cabinet posts.

1962- military chief U Ne Win overthrows Prime Minister U Nu. U Ne Win becomes chairman of the revolutionary Council, bans parliament. Ne Win pursues isolationism and a Burmese ideology- “the Burmese Way to Socialism’, a combination of Buddhism, Marxism and nationalism. Burma maintains relations solely with China.
-General U Ne Win expropriates the Chinese and Indian merchant classes, fixes prices and nationalizes businesses.
-with lack of export revenues, Burma is strapped for paying its foreign debt.

1988- riots due to a growing economic crisis, break out in Rangoon. They are centred around Sule Pagoda. Security Forces kill 3000 protesters.
-Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San, returns to Burma to care for her dying mother. She co-founds the National League for Democracy and becomes its General Secretary. She makes it into a mass movement for non-violent change.
-General Saw Maung overthrows Nu Win in a military coup and imposes martial law.
-the government’s State Law and order Restoration Council imposes martial law and imprisonment without trial, bans public meetings and prohibits Aung Suu Kyi from holding office.
-Aung San Suu Kyi defies the government and tours the country, giving talks.
- the military junta places Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.

1990- Aung San Suu Ky’s National league for Democracy wins80 % of the vote in elections. Many new MPs are jailed. The military’s own party gains only 10 seats.
-Government Ignores NLD Victory; repression continues.
-1991- Aun San Suu Kyi is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
-1992- Maung’s deputy, General Than Shwe, replaces Maung as ruler.
-1995- 10 July- Aun San Suu Kyi is released. But she is not allowed to move outside the capital, Rangoon.

-2000- Aun San Suu Kyi is put back under house arrest.
-2003- May- Aun San Suu Kyi taken into protective custody after clashes between her NLD and the government.
-2004-August – Khin Nyunt becomes Prime Minister. He proposes a convention for a road map to democracy.
October- Prime Minister Nyunt is placed under house arrest after a power struggle.
2005- February- Constitutional talks last the whole year without representation from opposition groups. There is no result.
2007- May- another year is added to Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest.
September- the government ends the Constitutional Convention after declaring constitutional talks complete.
-mass public demonstrations and protests after the government raises fuel prices


RECENT BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. Relentless campaigning by democracy actitvist Aung San Suu Kyi resulted in her National League for Democracy gainning an 80% landslide in the elections of 1990. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Meanwhile, the government of Saw Maung ignored the vote and all that transpired was Saw Maung's demotion in 1992 in favour of General Than Shwe who rules to this day. Throughout the 1990s, the National League for Democracy held repeated demonstrations and clashed with security forces. Aung San Suu Kyi herself was either under house arrest or under close surveillance, her freedom strictly limited. Briefly, in 2003, Prime Minister Khin Nyunt attempted to lay down a road map for democracy but he was put under house arrest after a power struggle. A Constitutional "convention" sputtered on within the confines of the leadership and has had no notable outcome. In 2006, Than Shwe, suddenly and with seeming arbitrariness moved the capital to the remote, inland region of May Pyi Taw. In May of this year, Aung San Suu Kyi, already several years back under house arrest had another year added to her confinement. In early September a 500% hike on fuel prices pushed the Burmese beyond endurance- a population that has never really recovered or seen relief from the blundering, ideologically inspired "Burmese Socialism" of 1962.

REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS. In the 9th century the early Burmese state of Pagan emerged where south-east Asia, borders on the Indian subcontionent. Over the centuries, the main cultural influences would prove to be more Indian than Chinese. In the eleventh century the great king, Anawratha founded the state of Pagan and expanded its borders. In the same period, Theravada Buddhism from Sri Lanka took root in the region. The Mongol conquests which subdued Pagan in the latter thirteenth century, mark off ancient Pagan from a new period in which Burma had to begin again. In the late Middle Ages, the region was ruled by warlords and wracked by internal dissension and war with Siam until the 18th century. In 1752, the Toungoo dynasty fell and the Konbaung dynasty was founded by King Aluanghpaya (1714-1760), the founder of modern Burma. Burma had perhaps another sixty years of ascendancy before 1824 when the British began their campaign to subdue the country and attach it to British India.

LOCATION OF NOTE: The Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon. A focal point of he monks' protests the Shwedagon Pagoda is a stupa-style temple, believed by archaeologists to have been built at some point around the 7th century when the state of Pagan first arose. The pagoda was the work of the Mon people, an ancient ethnic group which is still at odds with the Burmese state. This is a sensitive matter, however, because Burmese monastic tradition holds that the temple dates back to the time of Buddha in the fifth century BCE, and in fact, a detailed legend involving Buddha himself is attached to the temple. Throughout the 14th century Mon monarchs rebuilt the stupa each time increasing its height in what was seen as an act of sanctity. In 1608, the pagoda was plundered by the Portugeuse. In 1768 an earthquake damaged the temple and the stupa was restored to its present state by King Hsinbyushin. The British occupied the Shwedagon Pagoda in 1824, and, treating it with little respect, used it as a fortress. It took the British until 1919 to agree to a regulation not to wear shoes in the Pagoda precincts out of respect for Buddhist tradition. During the second Anglo Burmese War of 1852, the British occupied the Pagoda again and this time did not leave until 1929. The stupa has been a site of protest at least since 1920, when students gathered there to protest the Universities Act which they saw as an instrument of colonialism. In 1938- the temple was the site of a camp for striking oil workers. In 1946 Aung San held his mass rally for independence at the Shwedagon and his daughter Aung San Suu Kyi held her really during the infaous 1988 crackdown at the temple.

PROFILE: Aung San, (1915-1947) founder of modern Burma and father of Aung San Suu Kyi. As a student, Aung San organized the student strike of 1936, leading the the All-Burma Student's Union until 1938 when he became the general secretary of the nationalist movement. In 1939 he joined the Communist Party, the British forcing him into exile in 1940. He trained with the Japanese army and returned with Japan's invasion of Burma in 1942, leading his own corps, the Burma national Army. After holding a post under the Japanese occupation, he turned against Japan and joined the allies. Upon the Allied victory, he formed the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League and led a provisional governing Council of Ministers after the war. In 1947, he had worked out a constitution along with Burma's independence from the British when he was assassinated along with five colleagues.

CROSS-CENTURY SUMMARY: Burma's History can be divided roughly in five: an early history before the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century, a long period of invasion and internal dissension until the eighteenth century followed by a high period after 1752 when the country was unified by King Auanghpay. There follows the British colonial period of 1824-1947 and finally a modern period of independence to the present day. The short period of the rule of King Auanghpay, after Burma's three-century recovery from the Mongol invasions, appears to the only time when the country knew historical "greatness." This might explain, at least in part, the introversion and single-mindedness with which Burma's rulers have attempted, however desperately and artificially, to manufacture a national legacy.

EYE-WITNESS: George Orwell, when he was a British colonial policeman in Burma: "In Moulmein in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people...The young Bhuddist priests were the worst of all. There were several thousands of them in the town and none of them seemed to have anything to do except stand on street corners and jeer at Europeans...With one part of my mind I thought of the British Raj as an unbreakable tyranny, as something clamped down, in saecula saeculorum, upon the will or prostrate peoples; with another part I thought that the greatest joy in the world would be to drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest's guts. Feelings like these are the normal by-products of imperialism; ask any Anglo-Indian official, if you can catch him off-duty." -George Orwell, "Shooting an Elephant."

PRESENT SITUATION: The crackdown on the monks and their fellow protesters continues in cities throughout Burma. Cell-phone video images and the internet have gotten around total state censorship to provid a picture of growing police brutality. At least eight protesters and monks are reported to have been killed by security forces. Police have surrounded several temples and Buddhist monks are being placed under arrest. The continuing protest is regularly compared with he 1988 confrontation in which 3,000 were killed. The difference this time seems to be the extent of the participation and determination of the monks together with the regime's reluctance to commit the military- whose loyalties may this time be in doubt. As of September 28, security forces have surrounded Buddhist temples throughout the country and arrested many of the monks who are now absent from the demonstrations. Protests continue but they are flagging.

PLUS CA CHANGE: In 1940, Aung San was sent into exile by the British. In 1942, he returned, having sided with the Japanese invasion. His daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, likewise returned at a proptitious moment- the 1988 mass protests which were the first serious challenge to the tyranny begun by U Ne Win in 1962.

CURIOSITY: 2,000 of the Buddhist temples of ancient Pagan still stand throughout Burma.

TIMELINE FOR THE HISTORY OF BURMA:

Ancient Pagan.

-culturally, medieval Burma and the surrounding region are an extension of India.

849- the founding state of Pagan emerges where the Irrawaddy River bends east.

1044-1077- Pagan unified for the first time Anawratha, annexing territory to the north and the south on the Gulf of Martaban and the isthmus of Kra.

1057-1059- Anawratha repels attempts at invasion by the Khmer.

-Theravada Buddhism from Sri Lanka takes root in Pagan.

-Pagan will become noted for its extraordinary temples of which 2,000 still stand.

1250 (cirica) with the surrounding region, Pagan shares the Indian Dejarava temple state system which places an immense burden on the center of power: the state’s heavy religious donations for temple artisans and rice field irrigation weakens its ability to rule.

Fall of Pagan to the Mongols.

1252- the Thai Shan people of upper Burma and Thailand become vassals of the Mongols.

-Thais fleeing southward bring Thai Warlords who set up in Pagan

-Burmese and Thai warlords adopt Theravada Buddhism.

1287- invasions by the Shan and by Kublai Khan end in the collapse of Pagan.

Burma Barely Restored.

1486- second Burmese dynasty established.

1500- internal dissension and wars with Siam will last throughout the 16th century.

Auanghpaya Founds Modern Burma

1752- fall of the restored Toungoo dynasty. Konbaung dynasty founded by King Aluanghpaya (1714-1760)

-through great resourcefulness, Auanghpaya restores the state from rival groups and powers of the old order.

1757- the last point of resistance, Pegu, falls to forces led by Auanghpaya

1760- Auanghaya fails in an attempted attack on the Thai capital of Ayudhya, to the east. He dies of wounds incurred during the assault.

The Arrival of the British: the Anglo-Burmese Wars,

1824-1826- First Anglo-Burmese War. Brings Arakan and Tehnasserim under control of the British.

1824-1885- the Anglo-Burmese wars.

1852-1853- Second Anglo-Burmese War results in British occupation of Pego.

1885- Third Anglo-Burmese War ends in British occupation of Upper Burma.

1886- Britain annexes Province of Burma to British India.

Reaction Against the British Opposition to Buddhism.

1906- the Young Men’s Buddhist Association is formed in reaction to British opposition to the prominence of Buddhism on Burmese society.

1920- the Buddhist Association is succeeded by the General Council of Burmese Associations.

1920- just after the foundation of the University of Rangoon, student opposition to British increases into a student strike.

1930s- U Ne Win a nationalist, anti-British activist.

1935- the British form the Government of Burma Act- in principle. Aung San enrolls in Rangoon University.

1936- strike by the anti-British student opposition. All Burma Studnets Union is led by Aung San.

Rejection of Britain’s ‘Government of Burma Act’. The Rise of Burmese Nationalism

1937- the British bring the Government of Burma Act into force, governing Burma as a colony separate from India with a bicameral legislature.

1937- Burma separates from the British Empire.

1938-40- Aung San becomes secretary of the nationalist Dobama Asiayone movement.

1938- strike by the anti-British student opposition.

-1939 -strike by oil workers leads to the foundation of the Communist Party of Burma (CPB)

The British Exile Nationalist Leader Aung San.

1939-40- Aung San is president of the Communist Party of Burma.

-the larger part of the nationalist movement is led by the Burmese Revolutionary Party (BRP)

1940- Un Nu imprisoned for sedition by British. Aung San is sent into exile. He undergoes military training with the Japanese.

World War Two: Nationalist Collaboration with the Japanese Occupation.

1942-45- World War Two- Burma is occupied by the Japanese. The British fight the Burma Campaign against the Japanese and their Burma Army allies.

-Aung San (1915-1947) collaborates with Japanese agents to form the anti-British Burma Independence Army.

1942- BRP collaborates with Japanese.

1942- March 8- General Aung San’s Burma Independence Army enters Rangoon Burma with the Japanese occupation, capturing the capital from the British.

-Nu is freed by the Japanese and serves along with Aung San as a minister in the Japan-imposed Baw Maw government.

1943- Aung San makes Ne Win chief of his Burma National Army.

With Japan Losing, the Nationalists Defect to the Allies.

1944- Aung San contacts Viscount Mountbatten. In March- Aung San, the BRP and the Communists turn against the Japanese as the anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL). San then becomes president.

-U Ne Win- goes over to the allies.

-AFPFL foments uprising against the Japanese which brings back the British.

1945- January-- the British, supported by Chinese and US troops, open the Burma Roas.

May 17- Burma recaptured by the allies.

1946- Un Nu becomes president of the Burmese Constituent Assembly

The Allied Victory: Aung San heads a Liberated Burma.

-Aung San become Prime Minister in the Governor’s Executive Council.

1947- in London, Aung San negotiates Burma’s independence and coinceives the new Burmese Constitution.

Aung San Assassinated

-July 19- Aung San is assassinated with 5 other government memebers by U Saw, a political rival- removing the one uniting figure from Brumese politics.

1948- Jan 4- Burma formally attain indepndence.

U Nu succeeds as Prime Minister.

1948-56- U (Thakin) Nu of AFPFL is Prime Minister- (1907-1995) U Ne Win holds senior military and cabinet posts.

-government is challenged by the Communists (CPB) and various ethnic insurgencies.

-Ne Win retains his position as chief of the new Burmese Army.

1957-58 and 1958-62-- U Nu re-eelcted.

1958- U Nu resigns after a split in the AFPFL.

1958-1960- General U Ne Win becomes caretaker prime minister.

1960- U Nu re-elected..

U Nu Overthrown in a Coup by U Ne Win.

1962- U Ne Win overthrows Prime Minister U Nu. U Ne Win becomes chairman of the revolutionary Council, bans parliament. Ne Win pursues isolationism and a Burmese ideology- “the Burmese Way to Socialism’, a combination of Buddhism, Marxism and nationalism. Burma maintains relations solely with China.

-government forced to deal with Karen guerillas and a large domestic opposition.

The Tyranny of U Ne Win.

-General U Ne Win expropriates the Chinese and Indian merchant classes, fixes prices and nationalizes businesses.

-with lack of export revenues, Burma is strapped for paying its foreign debt.

Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Aung San, works at UN.

1969- Aung San Suu Kyi, (b. 1945) daughter of General Aung San, works at UN in New York.

1974- Burma becomes a single-party socialist Republic. U Ne Win becomes President.

1981- U Ne Win leaves office but continues to exert control as chairman of the Burmese Socialist Program Party which still holds the power.

-military crackdowns result in over a million refugees. 200,000 are crowded into camps in Thailand and India.

1988 Economic Crisis. Aung San Suu Kyi Returns to Burma, heads Opposition.

1988- riots due to an economic crisis in Rangoon, centred around Sule Pagoda. Security Forces kill 3000 protestors.

-Aung San Suu Kyi reuturns to Burma to care for her dying mother. She co-founds the National League for Democracy and becomes its General Secretary. She makes it into a mass movement for non-violent change.

-Saw Maung Overthrows Nu Win, Establishes new Dictatorship; Renames country Myanmar.

-General Saw Maung overthrows Nu Win in a military coup and imposes martial law.

-the government’s State Law and order Restoration Council imposes martial law and imprisonment without trial, bans public meetings and prohibits Aung Suu Kyi from holding office.

1989 - former Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma was changed to the Union of Myanmar out of deference to several ethnic groups..

Aung San Suu Kyi Campaigns for Democracy; her NLD wins elections.

-Aung San Suu Kyi defies the government and tours the country, giving talks.

- the military junta places Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.

1990- Suu Ky’s National league for Democracy wins 80 % of the vote in elections. Many new MPs are jailed. The military’s own party gains only 10 seats.

1991- Aun San Suu Kyi is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Government Inores NLD Victory; repression continues.

1992- Maung’s deputy, General Than Shwe, replaces Maung as ruler. Shwe makes ceasefires with several guerilla groups.

-the government continues to be opposed by Aung San Suu Kyi of the National League for Democracy party.

-clashes develop between several insurgent factions. Occasional rioting and pro-democracy demonstrations continue during the 1990s.

Aung San Suu Kyi granted limited freedom from house arrest.

1995- 10 July- Aun San Suu Kyi is released. But she is not allowed to move outside the capital, Rangoon.

Oct.- Suu Kyi resumes as General Secretary of the NLD. Her movements are resitrcted and she is watched closely.

Aung San Suu Kyi in and out of House Arrest.

2000- Aun San Suu Kyi is put back under house arrest.

2001- the government relaxes some restrictions.

2002- Ne Win, charged with plotting a coup, is placed under house arrest.

- Aun San Suu Kyi is put under house arrest again.

2003- May- Aun San Suu Kyi taken into protective custody after clashes between her NLD and the government.

Prime Minister Khin Nyunt’s Plan for Democracy.

August – Khin Nyunt becomes Prime Minister. He proposes a convention for a road map to democracy.

2004- peace is made between the government and the Karen guerilla group.

-Nyunt Placed under House Arrest.

2004- October- Prime Minister Nyunt is placed under house arrest after a power struggle.

November- Min Lo Naing , 1988 democracy leader and other dissidents released in mass amnesty.

2005- February- Constitutional talks last the whole year without respresentation from opposition groups. There is no result.

2006- March --the capital of Burma is moved By General Than Shwe to a remote region- May Pyi Taw, in the town of Pyinmana, 200 miles to the north, apparently on the advice of an astrologer.

2007- January- China and Russia veto a US draft resolution aimed at stopping political persecution in Burma.

April- Burma restores relations with North Korea- after 27 years.

May- another year is added to Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest.

Mass Protests led by Buddhist Monks after Government raises fuel prices.

August- mass public demonstrations and protests after the government raises fuel prices
September- the government ends the Constitutional Convention after declaring constitutional talks complete.

-Budhist monks (whom the military treat with kid gloves due to the monks’ great prestige in Burma stage peaceful mass demonstations, asking the government to open dialogue. Aung San Suu Kyi, not seen in public since 2003 is allowed to leave her house to greet the monks.


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